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FOIA Reform Support Needed Now!

Earlier this year, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VIT) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced S. 2520, the FOIA Improvement Act. The bill has generated a lot of enthusiasm in the open government community because it puts reins on agencies' overuse of the exemption covering "pre-decisional material" by requiring that they weigh the public interest in the release of the record. The bill also strengthens the Office of Government Information Services, which was created in 2007 to help enforce the law and to help settle FOIA disputes out of court, and makes other common-sense changes to the way agencies process requests for records. Time is short, though! While the House already passed a similar bill, there are several steps the bill must go through before it can be written into law. "Read more" to find out more about the bill, and how you can help.

Groups Urge President Obama to Commit to Legislative FOIA Reforms

On October 23, fifty organizations joined an effort headed by Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington (CREW) to ask the President to publicly go on record in support of legislative reforms to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As the letter points out, these reforms -- all of which are included in the bipartisan FOIA Improvement Act currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee -- are critical for achieving the unprecedented levels of openness promised by the President on his first day in office.

Groups Urge Greater Transparency in Government Watchlisting

The government’s loose watchlisting standards, revealed this summer, label thousands of people as suspected terrorists based on secret evidence. Innocent members of the public have no real process to challenge their listing. The standards are so broad that “individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists.”

Whistleblower Support at the Supreme Court - October 14, 2014 Newsletter

– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– Meet OTG’s Newest Partners (more)
– Members of Congress, Office of Special Counsel, and More File Amicus Briefs in Support of Whistleblower (more)


45 Groups: USA Freedom Act a First Step for Surveillance Reform

OpenTheGovernment.org and dozens of civil society organizations joined the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) in a letter to members of Congress urging the passage of the USA Freedom Act (S. 2685) and outlining necessary reforms that go beyond the current legislation. Among other reforms, the bill would mandate the disclosure of "significant" FISA Court decisions, and allow disclosure about surveillance orders from public and private sectors.

RSVP for "OGIS at Five" on October 31

On October 31st, OpenTheGovernment.org, the Newseum Institute, and the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) will host a half-day event examining OGIS’s successes and challenges in its first five years of operation. OGIS is tasked with mediating FOIA disputes and monitoring agency compliance with the law.

Coalition of Open Government Groups Confront President Obama On Policy that Frustrates Transparency

WASHINGTON – A coalition of 25 transparency groups and open government advocates sent a letter to President Obama today urging him to either “withdraw” or “provide guidance to agencies” on a 2009 White House Counsel memorandum that instructs all federal agencies to consult with White House attorneys on documents of interest to the Administration before releasing them.

International Right to Know Day: How Well Do You Know the US Freedom of Information Act

In advance of International Right to Know Day (September 28), we thought it would be fun to put together a quick quiz to see how much you know about the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and why it's time to pass the FOIA Improvement Act. If the embedded quiz does not launch in your browser, please take the quiz here: https://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=ODA2ODUzCL00

Join OTG, OGIS, and the Newseum Institute for "OGIS at 5" on October 31st

The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) opened its doors five years ago, with responsibilities to mediate disputes regarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests between requesters and federal agencies, and to provide Congress and the President with recommendations on how to improve agencies compliance with the FOIA.

At five years old, OGIS faces challenges and changes. Join OGIS, OpenTheGovernment.org and the Newseum Institute for a half-day discussion on OGIS’ past and future, beginning at 8 a.m. Oct. 31. The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required. RSVP here

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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